Al-Qaida now is recruiting home-grown killers within the United States, declares House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King. That’s why he has set hearings for next month on the radicalization of American Muslims, the Long Island Republican told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
It is “extremely difficult for them to attack us from outside,” as al-Qaida did on 9/11, because of increased security, he said. So al-Qaida switched to recruiting from within U.S. borders, he said.
“They’re taking people who are under the radar screen who are not on any terrorist surveillance list at all and they are recruiting them to fight against America,” King said.
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President Barack Obama has been slow to acknowledge the urgency of the terror threat and take a hard line, King said, noting: “Let me just say President Obama has gotten better over the last two years, but it’s sort of a schizophrenic administration.”
The radicalization hearings are intended to highlight the threat, although some Islamic leaders have expressed concern that the hearings will be a witch hunt or devolve into a spectacle reminiscent of those run by anti-communist crusader Sen. Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. And The New York Times recently criticized King’s plans for the hearings.
The New York Republican answered the Gray Lady sternly, saying: “The New York Times is just basically being a mouthpiece for political correctness. These are very legitimate hearings.”
King told Newsmax.TV: “We have to find out who is being radicalized, how are they attempting to do it, how are they recruiting within the Muslim community and whether or not Muslim leaders are cooperating with law enforcement, what Muslim leaders are doing to find out who in their midst is being recruited and who is a potential danger to the United States.”
A new study confirms that al-Qaida uses the Internet for such recruiting. Online tools that al-Qaida operatives are using include the social network Facebook and video-sharing YouTube, according to the Pentagon-funded study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Such sites allow terror groups to recruit under radar and around the world by reaching potential new members in their homes, says the study, which the center released last week.
“The emergence of affiliates and nonaffiliated cells and individuals also presents a troubling paradox for the United States and its partners: Despite extensive counterterrorism successes against the group responsible for 9/11, the al-Qaida ‘brand’ now resonates with an increasingly diverse [though still narrow] cross-section of Muslims around the world,” the study said.
One of the poster boys for the home-grown terrorist theory has been Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an American-born Muslim who killed 13 in a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
On the security side, King pointed to the dozens of threats that have been thwarted either by law enforcement or by accident in recent years, such as the one involving Antonio Martinez, also known as Muhammad Hussain, who is accused of trying to bomb a military recruiting station outside Baltimore in December. Another involved a Somali-American teen who was arrested in an FBI sting operation involving the bombing of a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Oregon.
Another plot came very close to success. A car bomb placed in New York’s Times Square last year failed to explode. Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani American and naturalized citizen, plead guilty to the attempt and was sentenced to life in prison.
On other issues, King said:
- The Obama administration is not being firm enough about the violent protests in Iran. “With Egypt he was quick to pull the rug on President Hosni Mubarak yet with Iran, when the Iranians were so brutal to the demonstrators putting down those demonstrations in 2009 the president was virtually silent.”
- Changes have to be made in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid if we hope to make any significant dent in the deficit. “How it’s done, we can debate, but we have to put it on the table. We can do it in a way which is not going to affect anyone who is at retirement age or close to retirement age now, but if we’re talking about the next generation of people we have to start making changes and we have to start making the adjustments which I believe can save those systems. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s time to do it. I think the Republicans have shown leadership.”
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